Jay Tavare [Interview]

Hello Folks! Happy Wednesday to you all. Today we have a wonderful interview with a world renowned actor, athlete, performance artist, and so much more. It’s Jay Tavare, Everyone! For me personally, I will fully admit right away that I was so excited to feature the man who portrayed Vega in the brilliant 1994 screen adaptation of the video game Street Fighter, a film that still makes as excited when I watch it as I was as a 9 year old kid watching in on Christmas Day with my grandparents (this is true, this did happen). I was obsessed with the arcade console of Street Fighter II at my local Boys and Girls Club around this time, and was a huge part of those formative years.

And as I have said several times in these introductions, because we tend to draw pretty awesome folks to our humble little site, the man who did a thing I loved even once happens to have had a career that is absolutely incredible beyond my initial yearning to have him share some words with us. Mr. Tavare was so kind to share a few words with us today about his career starting from he world of break dancing, to his involvement in the world of martial arts, self improvement, voice over acting, and so damn much more. So let’s get into it! Please enjoy some words from the multi-talented and incredibly impressive human being, Jay Tavare!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of performance? Was it something you were always passionate about since your youth? Or did you simply find yourself in this world one day?

I was always a great athlete and the excitement of the sport arenas and competition in front of an audience was a high I found intoxicating. That eventually lead me into dancing, and competitions, until I became the freestyle world champion in 83-84 after winning a global contest in London, England, to find the best solo dancer in the world. I am proud to say, I was one of the original B-boys. My innovative routine was a mixture of acrobatics and breakdance with a touch of martial arts. I was the Dance Warrior. The media attention I got from winning that contest led me into doing TV commercials, then TV series and eventually into Movies. At some stage in between, I did study the art of acting from many great teachers. From Lee Strasberg, to Stanislavski technique to improve and master the craft.

What was your very first paid gig in the world of performance? And did you learn anything from this  experience that still affects your work today?

The prize money for winning the Malibu World Championships was over $150K, which included a brand new Ford sedan. I travelled all over the world entertaining the high rollers and Royal families and made great money before I was even 20. I also made money doing many major  European TV ad campaigns for corporations like Panasonic, Kellogg’s.

1994’s film adaptation of the legendary video game Street Fighter is still one of the most fun films I can watch to date. And you were incredible as Vega in the film, who happens to be one of my favorite characters from the game as well. So, what was it like working on a film of this caliber? Was it as exciting to work on as it was for me to watch as 9 year old kid at it’s release, and as I do today almost 25 years later?

Vega was my first Hollywood major role, so it will always have a very special memory for me. It’s interesting that now almost quarter century later, the StreetFighter movie has gained cult status and has become part of the “Pop Culture” and Vega, which was one of the most flamboyant and interesting characters in the game, is loved by so many people all over the world, I know this because to this day I get recognized as Vega and ask for autographs and photos whenever I travel, and it is very touching and humbling to see the impact of my first performance on so many people to this day. Making the film was very exciting too, we travelled to Bangkok Thailand, then flew to Gold Coast Australia, then to Vancouver in Canada… it was an international endeavor.

 

We have spoken with a lot of folks from the world of voice over work, especially in video games. And you yourself have worked on some pretty huge and wonderful games yourself, including the Metal Gear and Red Dead Redemption franchises. With that being said, how do you enjoy voice over work in comparison to on screen roles? How would you say the two gigs are similar and in what ways?

I have been fortunate enough to have a separate career as a voiceover actor, having worked on some major video games. One of my first voiceover gigs was doing the trailer for the movie Wind Talkers which I had to speak Dinè a Athabaskan, the dialect of the Navajo people.  I also had to speak Dinè in Metal Gear Solid V for my character Code Talker which I received a lot of fan mail for.

I find doing voiceover work in some ways is more challenging because you do not have the luxury of motion to convey emotions and the performance by the tone of your voice and with your delivery. I see myself as a storyteller and VO work  is just another medium for me to express myself.

I also enjoy doing Mo Cap, as in Motion Capture games, where I get to were the suit with computer dots all over it and act out the entire game.

You have worked with some pretty amazing filmmakers and artists in your time. From the likes of Ron Howard and Spike Jonze, you’ve worked with some of the best. With that in mind, as an actor, what would you say is the most important aspect of building a relationship between a director and an actor? What sort of mentality do you believe needs to exist in order for a good working partnership to be formed to bring out the best performance and overall project?

You know, they say a film is made in casting. In some ways there is a lot of truth to that. Once you win a role, or land the part as we say in Hollywood, you now work with the creative team to bring that character to life, as a thespian your work could be both internal and emotional as well as physical if the role requires that, but ultimately the trust between you and your director is vital to get the best performances. I’ve been very fortunate to work with many Oscar winning directors who have a clear vision of what they want so my job was to bring it and let them decide what to keep and what to disregard. I do extensive background research on all my characters I portray and I share that knowledge with my directors which often allow me to bring that authenticity to my roles.

 

 

In your obvious expert opinion, how do you feel Native American people are represented in the world of filmmaking and the arts in general? Do you find yourself being typecasted into specific types of roles?

Although I’m known for several of my Native roles, I do not see myself only as just a Native actor, I’m an actor period. I have portrayed many different races on film, Spanish, Middle Eastern, South American as well as many American Indian characters from as many Nations to mention a few.  Hollywood loves to put you in a box, it’s up to an actor to break free of that by doing more than leathers and feathers roles. The Native roles have improved over the decades I’ve worked in Hollywood but not enough, it’s also up to the Native film makers to write and direct and produce other stories about the indigenous people, that are not the usual Rez story. I think the best is yet to come for the Native actors. There are a few young actors coming up that are breaking the stereotypes as I’ve done in my career.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I’ve recently produced and released an online health and fitness course:

JayTavareAcademy.com

Health and fitness has always been an important part of my life and it’s how I keep myself fit, ready and injury free over the decades of work in Hollywood. I am also up for a Netflix series and several films that should happen in 2019. Follow me on Instagram for updates.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I find the simplest things in life are always the most precious like watching my three-year-old niece Dena Rose pronounce certain words, or my little fuzzy dog Miss Bardot giving me a wet kiss in the morning, and I love doing random acts of compassion where I go and help the homeless on our coastline by buying them a cup of coffee and having a conversation with them. I did all 3 this past weekend and it made my heart smile.

 

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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